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Thune’s home state is close to Iowa’s caucuses, which would likely give him a geographical advantage, but Republican strategists in New Hampshire report that they haven’t heard from him or his representatives since the summer. Other potential GOP contenders — most notably former Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — have already begun to lock up support among the Granite State’s Republican operatives.
Thune didn’t earn a single vote in the Jan. 22 straw poll of New Hampshire Republican activists.
McCain suggested there was plenty of time for Thune to improve his name recognition in New Hampshire and elsewhere. With a smile, he offered an oft-repeated line about one of Thune’s advantages. “If I looked like John Thune, I’d be president of the United States today,” McCain said of his 6-foot-4-inch, dark-haired colleague.
There’s little doubt that Thune’s appearance — New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote, “If you wanted a Republican with the same general body type and athletic grace as Barack Obama, you’d pick Thune” — could be a political asset, especially in a GOP field that Thune said is relatively similar on some levels.
“I think you’re going to have a lot of people who are sort of in the same place philosophically. They’re all going to be right-of-center conservatives, pretty conservative on economic, social and national security issues,” he said. “So I think a lot of whatever differences there [are] are going to be largely ... stylistic, and then I think it’s going to come down to electability.”
It’s unclear whether Thune thinks he has that electability. Look for an answer before the end of the month.